Professional Negligence: Claims against Solicitors

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In partnership with

Head of Professional Negligence & Partner, Robert Johnson provides insight into the range of claims that his team have pursued against solicitors.

Robert Johnson and the Professional Negligence team at Healys act for clients against a variety of professionals on a variety of negligence claims.  The professionals against which we most frequently pursue claims are solicitors, accountants, surveyors, architects and estate agents.

In this article we summarise some recent case studies which illustrate the type of claims that we have pursued against solicitors, and the ways in which we have assisted our clients.

Fraud-related claims

These are claims against solicitors who have acted for clients in the intended purchase of properties but which were subject to identity fraud (i.e. the purported seller did not own the property).  Hence, the clients lost the purchase monies/did not acquire title to the property intended to be purchased causing them to recover their losses from their previous conveyancing solicitors.

Purchase of landlocked property

During the conveyancing process, the client’s solicitors failed to identify and therefore advise the client that the property they were purchasing was landlocked, meaning that legally the client had no right to access the property.  Had the client been aware of this issue, he would not have purchased the property causing the claim to be calculated by reference to price paid less the actual value, known as diminution in value.

Falling foul of the limitation period

The clients instructed a firm of solicitors to represent them in a professional negligence claim against their previous conveyancers. The 6 year limitation period (after which without more the claim cannot in law be pursued) was fast approaching so the firm sought to agree a standstill agreement with the conveyancers, giving more time to pursue the clients’ claim. An agreement was signed and the 6 years elapsed. However, the firm had failed to state correctly the conveyancer’s name on the agreement. Hence the conveyancer was not bound by the agreement and hence the professional negligence claim failed.

In a different case the client instructed a firm of solicitors to act for them in relation to a personal injury claim. The solicitors issued the claim against the wrong entity with this mistake remaining unidentified until the limitation period had passed. As a result the client’s claim was struck out by the Court.  We therefore pursued the firm successfully for compensation for the client’s loss of opportunity to pursue the initial claim.

Missed deadlines

The client instructed an employment law firm to assist with claims against their previous employer for (1) direct race discrimination (2) direct disability discrimination (3) harassment and victimisation; and (4) constructive unfair dismissal. The firm’s advice and the manner in which they dealt with the claims caused the client’s claims to be flawed and hence dismissed at the employment tribunal. Examples included the firm (1) failing to identify the correct name of the client’s employer; (2) failing to advise the client promptly that they had the wrong name; (3) providing inaccurate advice when the error was discovered; and (4) encouraging the client to take their time in correcting the error despite employment claims being subject to strict time limits. Hence the client lost the opportunity to pursue/succeed in these claims but which we successfully pursued as a negligence claim against the employment law firm.

Lack of building control consent

The client’s conveyancing solicitor failed to identify or advise the client adequately or at all that the loft conversion in the property that they were purchasing did not have building control consent. This was only discovered many years later when the client sought to convert the loft room into a study. It was also then identified that the whole of the property was structurally unsafe due to the loft conversion and that significant work would need to be undertaken to rectify this.  We therefore pursued the conveyancing firm for the cost of remedial/rectification works.

Landlord possession proceedings

The client initiated (as a lay person) Section 8 possession proceedings against his tenants for non-payment of rent. His priority was regaining possession of the property as he had robust evidence that the tenants were financially incapable of paying the arrears. Shortly into the process he instructed a firm of solicitors to represent him, who failed to advise him to issue instead Section 21 proceeding (which would progress much faster to possession). As a result, the client did not gain possession until much later than that which should have been the case.  We pursued a claim for loss of rent as earlier possession would have caused the property to have been rented out sooner than was the case.

Defects in property

The clients instructed a conveyancer to act for them in the purchase of a rural property. The conveyancer failed to identify that the property was subject to an agricultural tie which meant that only people who were employed in/connected to the agricultural industry (which the clients were not) could occupy the property. It also meant that the property could not be extended or altered (as the clients had planned). As a result it was worth considerably less than the value paid by the clients.  The difference between price paid and actual market value (i.e. with the defect) represented the majority of the value of the claim.

Sale of a company

The client instructed a solicitor firm to act for him in the sale of his business. The contractual agreement drafted by his solicitors was ambiguous on the matter of the net assets of the company. Namely, the purchaser believed that the company’s net assets were included in the agreed purchase price, whereas the client believed that the net assets were to be paid for in addition to the agreed purchase price. The client’s solicitors failed (among other failings) to ensure that this was clarified in the process of drafting and agreeing the contract for sale.

Healys Professional Negligence Services

Healys professional negligence team have acted for clients against a range of professionals including solicitors, barristers, architects, surveyors, financial advisors and accountants, and have an outstanding reputation for gaining the best possible outcome. They are accredited and recommended by leading legal review bodies, including Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

Contact Us

If you would like more information regarding the above or any other professional negligence claim, please contact Robert Johnson directly at: or on 07899 973306. For any other legal advice, please contact us below and one of our specialists will be happy to assist.

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